Casper Ruud bluffs his way to US Open final: ‘There is acting in sports. I tried to not show that I’m tired’

A delighted Casper Ruud

Casper Ruud overcame nerves at the beginning of his semi-final and tiredness towards the end of his match against Karen Khachanov to become the first Norwegian man to reach the US Open final.

But while Ruud was bluffing about his tiredness during the match, there wasn’t much bluffing about the quality of the tennis he produced on the day and during the tournament.

The fifth seed will face Carlos Alcaraz in Sunday’s showpiece match on Arthur Ashe Stadium and it will not only be the US Open crown that is on the line as they will also battle it out for the No 1 spot in the ATP Rankings.

After dismissing Matteo Berrettini in straight sets in the quarter-final, Ruud battled for three hours to see off Kachanov with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 victory.

The opening set went back and forth with neither player able to assert their dominance on serve. The Norwegian broke in game two to go 2-0 up, but he was then broken to love before Khachanov went 4-3 up with a second break. Yet this time the 27th seed was unable to back it up as Ruud hit back.

It went to a tie-breaker and both dug deep with one rally lasting an incredible 55 shots, but Ruud edged the first set with a single mini break.

The fifth seed finally took control as he broke in games three and five to go two sets to love up, but the hard-hitting Khachanov was not done as he went toe-to-toe in the third set and a single break in game 12 kept the match alive.

But both started to tire and Ruud was able to “act” his way to victory as he broke twice in the fourth set to claim victory.

“I tried to not show Karen that I’m tired because I don’t want him to think that, ‘This is tiring for Casper’,” he said.

“There is acting in sports. Tennis especially. It’s such a mental and psychological game that any small detail can help you win the match. I don’t know how I’m able to do it.”

The world No 7, who finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open in June, admitted that he was overwhelmed by the occasion early on, but eventually calmed down.

“I think we were both a bit nervous at the beginning, a few breaks back and forth. But you have to take into account that this match is probably the biggest in both of our careers,” he said. “Of course there will also be some nerves but I was fortunate to win that first set, which calmed my nerves a little bit.

“I played phenomenal in the second and Karen stepped up in the third. It was back and forth like every five-setter is, but I am just so happy. After Roland Garros I was extremely happy but of course humble enough to think that could be my only final at a Grand Slam in my career. It doesn’t come easy, but here I am back again a couple [of] months later.”